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Wolf wants $2M to help Ukrainians fleeing war

Plus, GOP bid to block Pa. congressional map rejected by SCOTUS.


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March 8, 2022
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With millions of Ukrainians already displaced by the Russian invasion, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday called on lawmakers to set aside $2 million in state funding to support Ukrainian refugees in the commonwealth. 

The money would be channeled through the state's Office of Refugee Resettlement to community-based resettlement agencies statewide, all amid the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Capital-Star reports state Sen. Lindsey Williams (D., Allegheny) plans to introduce legislation that would allocate the money to help Ukrainian refugees — regardless of their legal status and for as long as necessary.

Wolf also wants legislation requiring divestments of public funds from Russia. State pensions have already pulled millions of dollars in Russian holdings.

THE CONTEXT: House Republican leaders are expected to hold a press conference today outlining their related divestment plan.

In the two weeks since the Russian invasion began, Pennsylvania has reviewed state contracts for Russian ties. State-run liquor stores have pulled a handful of Russian-made products from their shelves. And millions of dollars have been divested via public pension funds and state treasury accounts. 

GOP lawmakers have called on Wolf to also ban imports of Russian fuel and encourage more drilling and pipeline construction in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, a pitch Wolf assailed as craven political opportunism

Reuters reports the U.S. is considering a nationwide ban on Russian oil. Most U.S. oil comes from Canada, and while the share of the supply from Russia is relatively small here, it's the highest it's been in decades. 


"There's a general sentiment that 'yeah, it doesn't make sense for the state to sell liquor' but then on the how to get rid of it, I know people are sometimes reluctant to change the Constitution."

—State Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R., Allegheny) on what new polling could mean for her attempt to privatize Pa.'s liquor system via voter referendum
A train in Mapleton, Huntingdon County, courtesy of @pabucketlistSend us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
MAP RULING: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against Republicans who sought to overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's choice of congressional map. The justices are allowing the map — which is slightly more favorable to Democrats than the last — to be in effect for the 2022 elections, but they signaled a desire to revisit the role of state courts in the redistricting process at a later time, the AP reports.  

SELF-CARE: Two years have passed since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Pennsylvania, and state officials are now preparing their endemic phase response. But as indoor mask rules are rolled back, immunocompromised people are left to make weighty decisions and risk assessments on their own. Maggie McGinn of Philadelphia, for one, told WHYY she's "terrified" about returning to the office.

COSBY CASE: The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to review a Pennsylvania court decision that overturned comedian Bill Cosby's 2018 sexual assault conviction and freed him from prison. Reuters reports the move effectively ends a two-decade legal saga that helped solidify the #MeToo movement. Cosby accuser Andrea Constand, a former Temple employee, warned of the decision's legal implications.

NO CONTACT: Lawyers for Eric Frein say his parents are not helping with an appeal of his death sentence for a fatal ambush on state police troopers in Pike County in 2014. The Times-Tribune reports Frein's parents are refusing to speak with his appellate lawyers based on the advice of their own counsel in lawsuits filed by three of Frein's victims, who say the parents knew he was dangerous but didn't act.

QANON FIGURE: A Pennsylvania man and Trump supporter that QAnon conspiracy theorists believe is actually the late John F. Kennedy Jr. in disguise is collecting petitions to run for U.S. Senator here. WESA attended Vincent Fusca's signature-gathering event in Monroeville on Saturday and found him leaning into the speculation while avoiding direct questions and failing to outline a concrete policy platform.

FUEL FLUX: Gas prices in Pennsylvania hit an all-time high over the weekend, averaging $4.17 per gallon statewide on Sunday after breaking a 14-year record on Saturday, the Associated Press reports. Fuel prices have risen internationally amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

INFORMATION WAR: Pittsburgh journalist Mila Sanina writes in The Independent about the misinformation surrounding Russia's invasion of Ukraine and how her own family in the region is being impacted.

VERDICT UPHELD: A federal appeals court has rejected arguments that there was insufficient evidence to support the public corruption conviction of former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, the Morning Call reports.

RELIC SALE: Down to its last dollars, Philadelphia's only remaining Civil War museum decided to auction off a rare battle flag carried by a regiment of Philadelphia's United States Colored Troops. It sold for $200,000.

LONE STAR: Ken Interval wasn't looking for a group of 590 pine trees arranged in the shape of star on a recent walk in Allegheny County. But he found one and uncovered a curious Depression-era relic in the process.

Unscramble and send your answer to We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

*This week's theme: Temperature
Yesterday's answer: Thermometric

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